I got back to Kecil after a 12 year gap early in July. Way more development. Long Beach is no longer drop dead gorgeous - just an okay beach.
BEST BEACHES -
Long Beach has been spoiled by concrete buildings in back, rows of beach umrellas/mats and haphazzard parking of too many boats. The sand is not the eye-hurting white of the good old days. I'm putting it at #3 on Kecil. However if you want lots of accommodation nearby, plenty of restaurants and a few lively bars, this is the place. Note the northern half is quiter and cleaner than the south.
Petani/Impiani Beach is my #1. It's on Kecil's south coast, is about 250m long, lovely water and no low-tide problems, sand maybe not as white as some but real clean and going a long way out into the water before rocks/coral take over.
You are more isolated from the action of Coral and Long Beaches to the north which are about 35-40 minutes walk the coastal then cross island tracks, but the coastal track continues the other way 10-15 minutes to the village where there are plenty of shops and restaurants. There are two places to stay: Petani Beach resort is budget/flashpacker standard and the new Impiani which was 70% finished when I visited - when it opens it seems destined to be more upmarket, maybe lower midrange.
Mira Bay #2 - is on the west coast, 25 minutes south of Coral Bay along the surprising good coastal walking track. This short beach is very appealing - nice sand which extends quite a distance into the water, no apparent low tide blues and one budget place, Mira. I'm penciling this one in next visit - it is less isolated than D'Lagoon with Coral Bay and Long Beach restaurants and bars an easy 25 and 35 minute shaded jungle-by-the-sea stroll.
I reckon Long Beach is #3 for the reasons mentioned above.
Midway down the east coast, Coral Bay (#4)is Perhentian Kecil's second most popular beach. Pretty nice sand, clear water and a big range of accommodation - extending to the rocks both ends of the beach. Biggest negative is the low tide blues - it gets pretty shallow a fair way from the beach at low tide. However no unattractive rocks or mud flats are exposed.
Coral Bay is connected to Long Beach by a well paved path across the low saddle - in '99 it was a much more interesting jungle track. New accommodation is spreading along this path. Tropicana about half way along had a dorm for rm15 per night (and pretty nice fan rooms for rm40).
D'Lagoon has the only other Kecil beach with accommodation (well, the village has a beach but it isn't too touristy). D'Lagoon is way up the northern end of the island's west coast. The bay in front of the very short but not unattractive beach used to have really good snorkelling but had sadly deteriorated this last visit - the best stuff seems close to the eastern rocks. The beach doesn't suffer too much from low tide problems and has sand out into the water at such times. Note there are 2 usually deserted east coast beaches, Turtle (10 minutes walk) and Adam and Eve (20m) accessed from D'Lagoon - great for sunsets or just some seclusion.
D'Lagoon's biggest negative for some will be its isolation - a pretty strenuous 1 hour+ trek from Long Beach or a water taxi each excursion. But isolation may be just the thing for you - certainly D'Lagoon resort, the only place here, had the biggest concentration of travellers and seemed to be closest to capacity when I visited.
My pick for an isolated one (budget) resort beach is Mira bay (but Mira does not have a dorm like D'Lagoon).
TREKKING ON KECIL
Walkers on the small island can get a real good workout - a lot of it thru pretty attractive jungle areas.
The Northern Track
This leaves the Long Beach-Coral Beach path pretty close to Long Beach (look for the electricity lines to the wind generators). The first half hour is mainly a steady climb up to the generators - a narrow jungle path in some areas, a heavily eroded vehicle track in others and a better surfaced vehicle track towards the top. Slopes are mainly moderate but there are a few short steep pinches.
From the wind generators walk 10 minutes down the very steep road (don't go down the awesome set of stairs to the west) where you will see a D'Lagoon signposted track leading into the jungle to the right - this winds and drops (no super steep slopes) for another 30 minutes to the resort.
The South-East Coastal Track
This runs all the way from Coral Bay around to the village in the south-west of the island. Maybe an hour in total for a good walker. It is a real nice jaunt - shaded by jungle most of the way but with the sea adjacent and some nice beaches along the way, very good surface, handrails on the few sections of stairs, surprisingly flat for the first section to Mira Beach, not too much worse from there to Petani/Impiani beach, a few steeper but not heartbreaking sections the next 10-15 minutes to the village.
To get to the start, push past the chalets on the rocks immediately south of Coral Bay's beach.
Village to Long Beach Track
I wasn't aware of this (and guide books' maps don't show it) but my taxi boat driver from the village to Long Beach pointed out an exposed new section thru the trees close to the village which looked very similar to the south-east track.
However this does not make it right thru yet - I went looking at the Long Beach end and all I could find was a small, very rough and steep track along the power lines heading towards the village from where they cross the Coral Bay-Long Beach track. I gave up after 10 minutes - I had done the two other Kecil tracks just before and was in no mood to go slogging up some steep rough jungle path. I got an email later from a guy who said he made it from the end of the new track to Long Beach by following a big water pipeline.
I've already mentioned off D'Lagoon. Coral Bay was similar - a few okay patches but nothing to get excited about. I didn't try Mira or Petani/Impiani. Long Beach has a nice section of clear sandy water along the rocks to the south which seemed to keep snorkellers occupied (no coral here - maybe fish?) and there is a fringing reef a bit further out.
But the SNORKELLING BOAT TRIPS take people to some pretty good places like Shark Point, Turtle Bay plus turtle spotting in the passage between the two islands - these are very competitive on Kecil with boards up promoting 5 stops for rm35 and 6 for rm40. I thought the coral, fish and turtles I saw were pretty okay, way better than anything I've seen in Thailand in recent years and only second to the Marine Park HQ area of Redang this trip.
CRIME, CROWDING and BOOZE - please see my PERHENTIAN BESAR post.
GETTING AROUND - the islands have a very good taxi boat system. Prices seem reasonable (about half those at Tioman) and are displayed on boards at the beaches.
Great info. I've read it here, on your blog, and at that "other" travel forum.
Its such great info but I STILL can't decide where to visit on Kecil. I'm torn between Long Beach at Petani.
I want us to have great variety of food to eat and people to watch but seems like the best beach is Petani
Any others have advice on how to decide?!?
#2 amz155 has been a member since 30/8/2006. Posts: 111